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Assignment 7

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Abc 7, Marin 5, Us 5, Phoenix 4, California 4, Bailey 3, Mario 3, Sandra 3, Marin City 2, Dan Ashley 2, Cheryl Jennings 2, Michael Finney 2, Heather Ishimaru 2, Ada 2, Jeffrey 1, Wallace 1, Sanchez 1, Kristen Sze 1, Ryan Lynch 1, David Louie 1,
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  ABC    Assignment 7    News  News/Business.  (CC)  

    September 5, 2010
    4:30 - 5:00pm PDT  

hello. welcome to "assignment 7". today on our program, a growing number of smart meter complaints. the people who are saying no to pg and e. the program helping to cut crime nearly in half in one bay area county. plus -- >> you asked me to be inexplicable more independent. >> rules on service animals. why the government says they may need to be tightened. attorney general brown is defending california's law to ban the sale and rental of violent video games with some of the biggest game companies here in the bay area, the case is being closely followed. david louie tells us what's at stake. >> reporter: california passed a law five years ago to stop the sale and rental of violent video
games to minors. it was blocked by legal challenges and struck down. now it's going to the u.s. supreme court. its author welcome has definitive decision. >> it's crying out for some direction as to how we can have a rather successful video game bill. so i'm really hopeful. >> reporter: the case will be heard this fall with state attorney general jerry brown arguing such laws should be allowed. on the other side is the entertainment software association which represents the video game industry. we talked to spokesman rich taylor in washington via skype. >> if for some reason the state of california is able to say what can and can't be sold or marketed, that's not -- there is a reason to believe that stops with one form of entertainment. it could go to movies and books and music. >> reporter: at issue is whether violent video games are harmful and whether they should be kept out of the hands of young people like other things.
>> by the push of a button, on the computer you literally are killing, hacking, doing horrible things to individuals and after you've done these hundreds of thousands of times, you overlearn the behavior and that becomes part of your behavior. >> reporter: they maintain the voluntary rating system works, along with intervention by parents. >> we do our part as partners with parents through our rating system and we strongly believe that is doing the control that needs to do. that there really is no need for the government to intervene. >> reporter: the supreme court will be deciding whether young people have first amendment rights. the case will be heard this fall with a decision sometime next year. in san jose, david louie, abc 7 money scope. >> a small but determined group of protesters is sailing no to pg and e's new smart meters. 1500 customers filed formal complaints. as "7 on your side" michael finney reports.
>> this woman and her husband have refused to pay the disputed amount of their pg and e bill. >> yes, it shut down my services by not paying the amount of this bill. >> reporter: sandra benson of concorde refused to allow a pg and e crew to install a second smart meter on her home. >> i already had enough trouble with the first one and didn't want to try and have a second one installed. >> reporter: both families are part of scattered individual protests taking place in the pg and e service area. their stories are similar. their electricity usage tripled after getting her smart meter and her bill jumped from $80 to $480. pg and e told her there was nothing wrong with her smart meter. >> why you went up without any logical reason? >> sandra had a similar
experience when hers doubled after pg and e put in her smart meter. >> why think anything of it until we got our bill for january services, which had gone from $206 to $670. >> reporter: pg and e at first told her not to pay the disputed bill while it investigated. the utility says it subsequently put her on a four-month payment plan when her bill hit $1,300. the two months into her four-month payment plan and pg and e sent her this notice, threatening to shut off her power. >> so we immediately paid the entire bill. i couldn't jeopardize my father's health over this. >> reporter: her father suffered andre aikins rich three years ago and needs a respirator. >> if they shut the electricity off, for 24 hours, i'll die. >> reporter: we contacted the utility and it apologized, saying it underread the family's gas meter in december and added those charges in january.
it also acknowledges it should not have sent the family a shut off notice. >> we did make mistakes in this, both underreading the meter in december and then not putting the payment plan that we had talked to the customer about and said we would do, not putting that in the system and that is what resulted in the shut off notice. >> reporter: sandra remains skeptical, saying her gas bill in december was roughly the same as the year before. she also says the problem started when her smart meter was installed, although pg and e now says she only has a smart meter for her electricity and not for gas. >> the problem is they've never given us a reasonable explanation. the only difference that we had in usage was the smart meter. otherwise everything has been exactly the same. >> reporter: like sandra and the others, also received a shut off notice. they contacted "7 on your side" and we contacted pg and e. the utility admitted there were two problems with that meter.
>> this particular meter has a communication issue. in other words, the data is not transmitting over the wireless network. >> reporter: they also say the meter wasn't storing the usage data correctly. the utility says neither problem would lead to inaccurate billing. >> the communication issues do not impact whether or not the meter measures usage correctly. what the communication is indicative of if p it's not transmitting the information, we have to come and personally read it. >> reporter: they acknowledged they should have told the family about the issue earlier and pulled out the old meter and sent it to a third party for testing. it installed a new smart meter along with andre an analog meted install them side by side to insure they're working properly. >> i'm exhausted. >> reporter: pg and e set aside the disputed charges until its investigation is interesting completed. we'll keep you posted. michael finney, "7 on your
side." >> new kind of soccer ball was unveiled at the world cup in south africa. it was invented in berkeley and designed to withstand barbed wire and bullets. richard heart has this report. >> reporter: this is a new kind of ball. it's called the one world football. its developer hopes it will change the world. an official world cup ball costs $150. even replica like this is 40 bucks. eventually it will deflate and could be punctured. the one world ball will last almost forever and costs half that. sort of. >> we are part of a growing trend of socially responsible companies that will be selling the ball commercially. so for everyone who buys one will be given. >> buy one for $40 and another one will go to someone in another area. players were beta tested under conditions that destroy a regular ball. >> my first impression was i
wish we had this when i was growing up because now with the barbed wire and the game would be over. >> reporter: these balls are not really meant to survive metal shrapnel and broken glass and some of these places are not pretty. humanitarian c attracted a well-known musician to join the project and name the ball. sting. >> he had told me that he had just invested some money in a soccer field in gaza because he knows how important it is for children in war zones and refugee camps to have someplace to play. >> reporter: the technology is closed cell foam, a new kind that will not absorb water or degrade and a special valve that enables the ball to reinflate itself. for a regular ball, nails and knives are death. for this ball, nails and a knife are child's play. with the next step in play, abc
7 news. >> coming up, fighting crime in marin county. >> it changes the life of one, then we've been successful. >> the program that's giving you go next if you had a hoveround power chair? the statue of liberty? the grand canyon? it's all possible with a hoveround. tom: hi i'm tom kruse, inventor and founder of hoveround. when we say you're free to see the world, we mean it. call today and get a free hoveround information kit
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explore them all. yoplait. it is so good. the yoplait you can't get enough of. now in a four pack. welcome back. a program aimed at cutting crime in a low income neighborhood of marin county is proving effective. it's called the phoenix project. our cheryl jennings shows us how it works. >> let's get this set up. >> reporter: 24-year-old matthew is being trained in carpentry by ryan lynch with a conservation corp. of the north bay. >> my family was used to seeing me go down the wrong road for many years. >> reporter: it's one of many partners in a new crime fighting effort in marin city founded by felicia gaston. >> every time i picked up the newspaper, i would read about robberies at the bus stop, robberies in a community,
vandalism, gunshots. >> reporter: matthew is just one of her success stories. he's come a long way from san quentin prison. >> a viol violations of probations, sales of narcotics, trying to get fast money. not realizing the consequences. not realizing that there is opportunities out there. >> reporter: chris grayson also served time in san went tin. he's 24 and has a future thanks to the phoenix project. he was connected with earl, owner of the detailing company. chris and matthew are among dozens of young men in the phoenix project of marin. it's been so successful that a preliminary report shows crime statistics decreased 42% here in the first six months after the program started. >> when the sheriff's deputy was sitting in his vehicle and he was shot at and it was like oh, no, that was my call to action then. >> reporter: her call to action quickly resulted in the creation of this community connection center created in the heart of
the housing project. >> what can the phoenix project do for you? do you have your driver's license, social security card? do you have birth certificate? all the necessary documents that you need in order to proceed in life. >> reporter: outreach workers help young men 13 to 25 sign up for services, including mentoring, counseling, computer training, college courses, support navigating through the court system, and most importantly, jobs and housing. >> we were surprised to learn that about 25% of these 30 to 40 kids we're working with are truly homeless. >> reporter: dan is the executive director of the marin housing authority. >> they had provided the space, actual facilities, the resources, staff. >> reporter: a dozen strategic partners were invited to work with the phoenix project, including law enforcement. >> it changes the life of one, then we've been successful
really. >> reporter: the marin board of supervisors helped get the phoenix project rolling with discretionary money. >> $50,000 was donated. the county supervisors donated 50. we're piecemealing in hud funding. it costs us 100 to $200,000 a year, which is kind of a shoe string budget. >> reporter: that investment means that matthew and his brother, joshua, are learning a trade and going to school. one of the neighbors in marin city says the project has changed things dramatically. >> at night before it used to be really noisy. now through the nighttime it's more quiet. >> the gun shots have ceased. the loud activity has gone down in this area. the more people we get out to work, then the less people we have hanging out. >> it means that young men, young black men will have a chance to get out in the world and be successful. >> they're helping me with housing.
they're helping me stay focused on taking care of business. >> if i was able to come out here and do work for the community, then maybe i'll be able to influence others who want to participate. >> reporter: cheryl jennings, abc 7 news. >> coming up, ready to be wowed? when "assignment 7" continues, the hottest topics on the internet and how to find them instantly. and the pets people are trying to pass off as service animals. how they're threatening to give the real a bad rap.
how would i make school a beer place? field trips to the zoo! more basketballs. soccer balls. and a museum! [ growls ] more basketballs. soccer balls! more books. yeah. like just a ton of books. [ girl ] and boo about soft this. soft and slimy. [ female announcer ] now clip double box tops for education. from totino's pizza rolls and party pizzas. and make their school a better place. imagine searching the internet and discovering what's hot instantly. that's what one company is doing and hoping you'll be wowed. here is dan ashley. >> reporter: for all of the information that's available on-line, there has been one constant flaw. how you can zero in on what people are talking about right now. >> i think people are
fundamentally interested in what the crowd is paying attention to. >> reporter: jeffrey thinks he found the answer called wowed. >> what i like is the fact that i can actually guide the trend following. >> reporter: it uses the power of the people currently on the internet to build search results. >> the web is moving toward real time cycle, meaning pages change and people want to become aware of them. >> reporter: it collects data from users and builds a list of what's trending on the internet and you can see new results appear as they become available in real time. >> the question is, if something changes, how do you become aware of it? that's what wowed is all about. >> reporter: wowed let's you see what real people are searching for right now. and provides an index of what they are most interested in. >> new stuff that comes available, content changes, and people want a single place to go to become of this stuff. >> reporter: it runs counter to the current search model. they call the internet and
analyze how web pages are related. it works, but miss has tremendous amount of data, including information that may be unpopular web sites. wowed uses tracking software downloaded by users to search for information anonymously. this method of cloud computing let's wowed use the power of thousands of computers to generate search results. >> meaning every few seconds we're able to find new material for you that matches the thing that you're looking for. so that's a new kind of search. >> i think they're trying to pick up on a trend, if you will. >> reporter: he isn't so sure people will buy into this idea. he says people have a general fear of downloading anything new to their computers. >> i'm not convinced that that's something that people are going to want to do and i'm not entirely convinced either that we need another search engine. >> wowed says users don't have to download anything to see the benefits of using the site. but it says results will only get better if more users do download the software. >> it's not for everybody.
but we provide a bunch of things in what we call the client so that for a certain number of people, they will want to have it. >> reporter: wow users say they welcome any new search tool that allows them to zero in on what real people are really talking about. >> search engines aren't going away, but there are lots of other things that -- tools we all play with. >> dan ashley, abc 7 news. >> did you know you can take a snake or a chicken into a restaurant and even onto a plane? under federal law, all you have to do is claim it's a service animal. but the justice department is expected to tighten up the definition of just what is a service animal. here is abc 7's heather ishimaru. >> reporter: wallace's roommate can pull her wheelchair, turn on lights, and open the fridge. 24-year-old brosman has a disease, without casten, life would be different. >> he allows me to be inexplicable more independent.
>> reporter: under the americans with disability act, because casten is a service dog, he's allowed to go everywhere she goes. the same is true for midnight, sean's service dog who provides emotional support. >> what happens if she's not with you is this. >> i become a totally different person. like freak out and weird out. not fun. >> reporter: bailey's therapy recommend he get a dog and midnight has a service dog tag from oakland. casten has one from the state, but under the ada, neither tag is necessary. >> what is really required under the ada is that they say this is a service animal who is providing me with a service due to a disability. >> reporter: san francisco animal care and control director says if challenged by a restaurant owner or anyone else, all that's legally required is to say it's a service animal. and it doesn't have to be a dog. >> i know there is a service chicken over on the east bay and i think someone in the city has a service snake because the way
the federal law is written, it's like service animal. not a service dog. >> reporter: san francisco has seen a marked increase in applications for service dog tags from 244 in 2004 to 783 last year. that cory, cory, ceo of santa rosa based canine companions for independence who thinks some people might be buying the law. >> dogs can be dogs and if they're not highly trained like we have done, they can run it for the rest of us. we think there might be a backlash of i don't want any dogs in here. i saw a dog two months ago. it peed on my rug. >> reporter: canine companions gives dogs like this two years of training from instructors with three to five years training themselves. bailey trained midnight himself. canine companions and other service animal organizations are asking congress to change the law, better defining what service animals do and to exclude the emotional support category. midnight would no longer be able to accompany bailey all the
time. >> the dog makes you feel better. we don't think that qualifies and we don't believe the ada will say that qualifies you to have access to the theater, the restaurant, to all the public accommodations in the law. >> it could be fine tuned, but i have to say i think most of the people who apply, if not the vast majority of people who apply, are doing it legitimately. i don't think there is as much abuse as people seem to think there is. >> the recommendations are expected by the end of summer. heather ishimaru, abc 7 news. >> up next, a young bay area man born to dance. he's been given the chance of a lifetime. but will he be able to take advantage of it? taco seasoning?
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else, in dance class. ♪ . >> reporter: dance is his destiny, an extension of his being. something magical happens when mario hears music. the 19-year-old knew a week after he began lessons at age ten that dance would be his life. >> i just started to discover the music and the way to move. you can transcend into a role. >> reporter: he's been performing with many ballets. this was a typical weekday, always working, learning, pushing. instructor says mario can make a pedestrian move interesting. >> he has this genius sort of element to his thinking, to his way of approaching things. >> something you're born with, she says. for mario, dance is all consuming. >> i love dancing. in my bedroom, right before i go to sleep. anywhere, any time.
even in the park. >> reporter: on a lack, he applied to the academy in russia for more than 230 years it has set a world standard. and he was accepted for fall classes. >> in real, real shock. like how did this happen? >> reporter: exacting, disciplined, he'll learn dance and russian. >> the ballet academy, international reputation as one of the best dance facilities in the world. now all mario needs is money. $20,000 for tuition and expenses. to raise money, he has a web site, his mom has sent out hundreds of letters to friends. nothing can stop his dream. >> it's something i want so much. there is no room for me to doubt it. >> reporter: abc 7 news. >> if you want more information on the stories on our program today, go to our web site at
abc7news.com and look under the news links on the left side for "assignment 7". and that's all for this edition of "assignment 7". i'm kristen sze. thank you for joining us. hope you enjoyed the program. we'll see you back here next time. >> searchers return to a bay area landfill looking for a missing man who investigators fear may be the latest victim in a struck -- string of murders. an overnight accident left two people dead. and the first new photos of decades of a california animal thought to

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